What to bring from holidays in Turkey?
Turkey is a popular tourist destination. The country has a rich history and distinctive cultural traditions. Before you go on holidays, you should think of what to bring from Turkey for yourself, and your loved ones.
Where to buy gifts in Turkey
There are many places where you can shop:
Bazaars. The most popular and peculiar markets in Turkey. Many people come to this country especially because of them. Bazaars are places where delicious food and all kinds of goods are sold. Starting from more sophisticated things like gold, glass, bronze, fabrics, carpets, ceramics, shawls, amulets, jewellery, leather and fur products (especially loved by Russian customers), to more common souvenirs, like keyrings, Turkish delight, fridge magnets etc. On bazaars, you can also get good quality, and in reasonable prices, all kinds of clothes and accessories like shoes, bags, wallets, belts, towels etc. Another thing, which is ubiquitous about bazaars, is the chance to beat the price. As a result, you can buy the things you like 20-50% cheaper than the initial cost.
Shopping centres. Shopping malls of world-wide and local brands, restaurants, pharmacies and grocery supermarkets. The prices in the shopping centres are fixed. The cost of high-quality shoes and clothing from Turkish manufacturers is appealing - such goods in Europe are 50-100% more expensive than in Turkey.
Shops at hotels. This option is the most expensive one. It is recommended to make purchases here only if other methods are not available for some reason. Product prices are often 100-150% overpriced. You can, if you wish, buy in such shops bathing products and tiny goodies - it is not wise to spend too much money in there.
What other gifts can be bought in Turkey
It is profitable to buy them in one of the local pastry shops. Prices in shops for foreigners or bazaars are 1.5-2 times higher.
Bestsellers among Turkish sweets:
- Turkish Delight (tr. lokum) - This is the most popular sweet in Turkey. It is prepared from a mixture of sugar, water and starch. The jelly-like starch consistency is mixed with chopped different kinds of nuts like hazelnuts, pistachios etc. They are often flavoured with rosewater, mint, strawberry, cherry and other. Good Turkish Delight is sold by weight. The cost is 35-70 lira per 1 kg.
- Kadayif - Mostly baked in a rectangular shape. Its basic ingredients are caramel and sugar, the same like baklava, consists of thin like paper filo pastry sandwiched in several layers. Soaked in a sweet honey syrup, mixed with bitter lemon juice, gives it a refreshing flavour. Kadayif costs 55-70 lira per 500 g.
- Baklava - dessert popular in Balkan and Middle East cuisine. Rolls made of filo pastry with sweet layers of pistachios, walnuts etc soaked in honey or sugar syrup. The dessert has a sweet and sticky consistency.
- Honey - The quality of the product is high, the flavour is intense. When you are in Turkey, don't miss the opportunity to buy honey from local farmers at the bazaar. Sellers willingly allow you to taste their goods. You can choose from a wide variety of flavours like pine, orange etc.
- Turkish Halva - Made from sesame seeds by local confectioners. Halva is delicate in form and made with the addition of nuts, chocolate and vanilla. 250 g. will cost you 12-30 liras.
- Rose petal jam - This is an unusual gift, which has healing properties. A small jar costs 12-20 liras.
More than 2 million tons of olives grow in Turkey every year. The cost of the product is less than in Greece or Spain, by 10-30%. It is cheaper to buy olives in supermarkets like Sok, Migros and other retail chains. However, It is worth to buy and try olives from local farmers, which are sold by weight on local bazaars.
Beside wide variety of olives, in Turkey local farmers also produce and sell olive oil, in a compact bottles, easy to transport.
Diverse spices and sauces
The first example which comes to your mind, is pomegranate syrup. It is popular, especially among the locals. It has a sour-sweet taste and can be used to season salads or marinade for meat. On the bazaar, a bottle costs 15-20 lire.
A large number of herbs are grown in Turkey. It is nice to bring them home from your holidays and enrich your kitchen with new flavours:
- Kuru Nane - dried mint leaves
- Pul biber - crushed red pepper;
- Sumac - spicy red powder;
Ready-made kits are sold in supermarkets and souvenir shops. They include the usual curry, saffron, cloves, sesame seeds, thyme, cumin. Spices by weight can be purchased on bazaars. Bargaining with the seller will reduce the price by 20-40%.
There are many types of cheese found in Turkey. They are sold in various shapes, consistency, seasoned, sliced, white, yellow etc. The 2 most popular are:
- Beyaz peynir (White Cheese) - It can be made from animals milk: cow, goat or sheep. They can vary in consistency and proportion. You can buy this cheese in markets or from bazaars.
- Mihaliç peyniri (Bursa) - regional cheese, made from sheep's milk. Fatty, salty and hard.
Extensive pistachio plantations are located in the province of Antalya. You can buy nuts in bazaars and some markets by weight. Pistachios are often found in stores, which can be distinguished by their green packaging. It is a tasty snack from abroad and is a good gift for someone who likes salty nuts.
Turkish coffee and tea
Turkish coffee is presented in a wide range in any supermarket or bazaar. Popular brands are Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi, Eminonu Mah, Hafız Mustafa, Nuri Toplar and more. The cost of a 500-gram package is 45-55 liras.
Turkish tea - quite often tourists buy the products of the Çaykur company. The best tea in Turkey is harvested on the Rize plantation. You can distinguish them from the Rize inscription on the packs.
Turkish people drink tea from tulip shape glasses. Such a set can also be purchased as a gift. Available in supermarkets and on bazaars.
Wines in Turkey are mostly made from berries and fruit - blackberries, pomegranates, peaches. Many varieties are sweet, with a strong aroma and strong flavour.
Popular wine brands:
- Kalecik Karas
Branch most common among women, who often bring natural cosmetics from Turkey. Natural oils, rose water, clay masks, and hand-made soaps are especially popular. The recommendation for experienced tourists is to shop at pharmacies.
Many cosmetics in Turkey are made with us of olive oil. Shampoos and body balms are produced under the Dalan D'Olive brand. A distinctive feature of the products is the absence of silicones and paraben in the ingredients.
Rosen produces cosmetics based on rose essence. The product line includes body lotions, shampoos, and washing gels. Rosewater is especially popular with tourists, it can effectively moisturise the skin and normalize the acid-base balance.
Women often buy the body and face masks based on volcanic clay and algae. The products have strong healing properties and have a rejuvenating effect on the skin. Usually, those kinds of cosmetics are costly.
Inexpensive sun blockers can be found in local pharmacies.
A good buy are aloe-based creams that do an excellent job to sunburnt places, and effectively moisturise the skin.
Turkey is the major cotton producer. Turkish textiles are of high quality: they do not stretch or vanish after washing. The best brands are Altınbaşak, Özdilek. Products from less popular local producers are also of high quality. Good and useful gifts are towels or dressing gowns. It is better to buy them in specialized textile stores.
It is profitable to bring woollen bedspreads and blankets from Turkey. Their prices here are 2.5-3 times lower than in Europe. Large manufacturers sell their products also in online shops.
Medicine and vitamins
Counterfeit medicines in Turkey are severely prohibited. There are no fake products in pharmacies. The cost of medicines is 30-40% lower than in most European countries and more effective. Vitamins and supplements are being brought from Turkey.
In pharmacies, you can find much cheaper and often more effective Turkish counterparts of many famous brands, but under a different name. Find on the internet the picture of the medicine you are looking for, and check if it's in stock.
Healing Mesir paste is an original and delicious souvenir. It has a jelly-like consistency and herbal colour. Made from natural ingredients. The paste contains more than 40 components, including ginger, royal jelly, coriander. Sometimes the product is found in the form of lozenges and candies. Mesir improves immunity and cures respiratory diseases.
Paste is included in the UNESCO list of intangible heritage. You can buy original Mesir only in Turkey.
Souvenirs and talismans
Small souvenirs, along with photographs, can preserve the memory of an eventful and interesting holiday for a long time.
You can bring many original gadgets and talismans from Turkey:
Nazar Bonjuk (Talisman Nazar) a blue or yellow eye with a white pupil in the middle. It can be found in any gift shop. It is very cheap, and the most popular souvenir from Turkey. According to the popular belief, the talisman is supposed to reflect evil eyes, and protect us from Nazar - bad luck. Talisman should be given in a present, we should not buy them for ourselves, otherwise, its reflective power will not work.
Onyx products. Figurines and dishes made from onyx stone look beautiful and unique, therefore they are often purchased as a souvenir.
Coloured glass lamps that can be placed on a table or suspended from the ceiling. Products are individual, each has its own shape and pattern. They are hand made products from metal frame and coloured mosaic.
Hookah is a gadget brought from eastern countries. Made of metal and glass. It is an ideal gift for those who relax smoking. There are many flavours of tobacco, specially produced for water pipes. We recommend buy hookah with tobacco to get a discount.
Ceramic products are a visiting card of Turkey. Vases, dishes, cups of all shapes and colours are found in abundance in markets and local shops. The ceramics here are of high quality. Most of the products are hand-made and hand-painted.
Turkish teapot. In its shape resembles samovar. They are traditionally made of copper. This item will be a great gift for family and friends. It is better to buy a copper teapot on a bazaar. Here you can find handicrafts made by local craftsmen.
And what about shells?
There is no official ban on the export of seashells. But the customs officer may consider such items to be of archaeological value. This can lead to special procedures or fines.
To avoid this, purchase shells from gift shops and be sure to keep receipts. It is not recommended to take anything found in the sea or on the beach if you do not want to get in trouble.
What can you buy for a certain amount
The prices in Turkey (like everywhere) keep changing all the time. Products prices, especially on bazaars, vary depending on when you come to Turkey. If this is wintertime, when the prices go increasingly down, or in the season when the prices go increasingly up. Although, we want to roughly present, what can be bought for a certain amount of Turkish lira. eg. one pair of sports shoes or trainers from bazaar may cost up to 100 TL. On occasional price, you buy a packet of 2 or 3 T-shirts for 20 -25TL. Accessories like wallets, belts etc. are usually very cheap and made of real leather, you may spend up to 50TL for one of these products.
What cannot be exported from the country?
There are a number of restrictions of certain items which must not be exported from Turkey.
The list includes:
- antique carpets over 100 years old;
- medicinal products containing narcotic substances;
- cigarettes; ( max 10 packets allowed);
- weapons: sabers, daggers, antique pistols;
- old coins made of any metals;
- jewelry worth more than $ 15,000;
- alcohol with a volume of more than 5 l
- souvenirs worth $ 1000.
Tips and tricks for tourists
You can buy nice souvenirs and save good money if you follow some advice:
The best currency to pay is Turkish lira. Change money before and when you come to the country exchange offices.
It is good to compare the cost of souvenirs in different places before purchase. Sometimes it is better to wait a few days, and do reconnaissance.
You should not shop at places recommended by guides and tour guides. They usually take tourists to the most expensive shops.
Refrain from shopping in popular locations. Sometimes you can save money shopping souvenirs and gifts far from the city centre and famous streets.
Don't forget to bargain the price with the seller!